ST. LOUIS — What was supposed to be a record-breaking year in corn yields, with the highest ever acreage of corn planted across the nation, has turned into a summer full of anxiety over a drought abnormally severe for the time of year, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.
A snowless winter combined with a rainless spring have thrown Missouri into “extreme” drought conditions, and farmers are already worrying about the end game for their crops.
As the Post-Dispatch reports:
Corn is curling and too short. Soybeans are struggling to emerge. Dairy cows aren’t producing milk because it’s too hot to eat. Cattle are being sold off in record numbers because their owners can’t afford, or find, hay or pasture.
“I’ve seen tough times. I’ve seen floods, I’ve seen droughts, I’ve seen diseases in crops. Pretty much everything,” said Tim Johnson, a salesman at Wm. Nobbe & Co., a John Deere dealership in Scott City, where drought conditions are among the worst in Missouri. “But as far as drought, I’ve never seen one this early, and I’ve never seen it this bad.”
For the nation’s corn crop — worth roughly $76.5 billion last year — the weather is especially troubling. Because of the mild spring, many farmers planted their corn weeks ahead of schedule on a record-high number of acres. Now, the crop is being whacked with extreme heat at a critical pollination stage when the plants set ears. No ears mean no harvest.